Prototype Art: Alignment in Inkscape

game-creation-process-prototypeI use Inkscape for all of my game design artwork. It is relatively easy to use and is vector based, so I can make things larger or smaller as needed without any loss in picture quality.

I’ve done a couple other Inkscape tutorials about game design artwork. You can check those out:

Today I want to focus on one specific tool within Inkscape: Alignment.

If you don’t have the software, you can download it from their website: inkscape.org.

Let’s Line Things Up!

The tool I find I use the most within Inkscape is the alignment tool. I use it for every piece of artwork or graphic design that I make in Inkscape.

When you are working in Inkscape and desire to line things up, look for this icon:  InkscapeAlignmentIcon

Clicking that will open the Alignment options, which will look like this:

Control Panel of Alignment

Control Panel of Alignment

Let’s run down what those options are. Here is a new version of that image:

Alignment

Instead of running through each of those things listed above I am going to provide a couple examples. At the end of this article you will find a the Inkscape file that I used for these examples. Feel free to download it and use it to get familiar with the alignment tools.

Anchors Away!

When aligning things the most important thing is understanding which object is the anchor. The anchor is the object that will not move when the command is applied. You can choose the anchor with the options from the “RELATIVE TO” box at the top, which are the following options:

  • Last Selected
  • First Selected
  • Biggest Object
  • Smallest Object
  • Page
  • Drawing
  • Selection

The three that I use the most are “Last Selected,” “First Selected,” and “Page.”

When selecting multiple items, if you chose the anchor last, then you should set RELATIVE TO to “Last Selected.” That way when you choose the alignment function, the anchor will appropriately stay put and the other objects will move.

Likewise, the “First Selected” option will cause the anchor to be the first object you select. Both of these options are nice because you can make sure you’ll know which object won’t be moving.

Using the “Page” option will align things with the page. The Page is represented by the black box in the middle of the canvas when opening a new document. I use this a ton when designing artwork for cards since it allows me to center things on the page. This one can come in very handy. You can align things to the center of the page by using these two alignment functions:

Alignment - Centering Functions

Alignment Examples

I’m going to use a circle and a block and show you how several of the functions work. After centering the block on the page I’ll be using the block as the anchor for the remaining alignments.

AlignmentEx01-Start

AlignmentEx02-CenterBlock

AlignmentEx02a-AlignCircleToBlockBottom

AlignmentEx03-AlignCircleToBlockLeft

AlignmentEx04-AlignCircleLeftToBlockRightAlignmentEx05-AlignCircleToHorizontalBlockAxisAlignmentEx06-AlignCircleToVerticalBlockAxisAlignmentEx07-AddRedCirclesAlignmentEx08-AlignRedCirclestoBlueHorizAxisAlignmentEx09-DistributeCirclesHorizAlignmentEx10-RealignCircleDistributionFor the very last example, step 10, I had to use the “Treat Selection As Group” option. If I had not used it the result would have been to stack all three circles on the vertical axis of the block:

AlignmentEx11-Incorrect Alignment

By treating the three circles as a group it allows for the whole group to be aligned without adjusting the relative locations of the objects in the group. Often I’ll just group objects myself before aligning them and then ungrouping them after the alignment. But feel free to do it however you like.

That’s Basically It

I have found that these alignment tools are very useful when making prototype artwork for my game designs. It allows you to consistently place things in the same spots. It allows you to make things line up correctly. And it allows Inkscape to help design your awesomeness!

Here is the file: BoardsAndBarleyAlignmentExample.svg

It is located in Google Drive and to get it to work you’ll have to download it. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.

Monday Brews 4-14-14

Happy Monday everyone. I hope all of you that attended PAX East of the Gathering of Friends had a great time. I attended neither, babysat Saturday evening, and played one game all weekend. But that’s okay.

Today is Monday so I present you with me recap of the Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week:

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: Wisconsin Brewing Co. Porter

I enjoyed this Porter at a dinner on Sunday evening with my wife for her birthday. The Porter is from the still new Wisconsin Brewing Co. I found it to be a very nice porter with characteristics one would expect from a porter. I would drink it again as it was easy to drink and enjoyable to taste.

They recently brewed a coffee porter that is only available on tap. I would definitely like to try it since I enjoy coffee flavored/infused brews.

  • NEW! Founder’s Porter – I enjoyed this porter during Board Game Night. Not too much to say about it. It was decent.
  • NEW! Saint Francis Gluttony – From a Milwaukee brewery that names their beers after the seven deadly sins. This was their Maibock. It was okay. I found it a little too sweet and not “Spring” enough.
  • NEW! Penn Pilsner – It’s been a while since I had a straight up pilsner. This tasted like a pilsner, smelled like a pilsner, and was pilsner through and through. Yet I enjoyed it.
  • Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter
  • New Glarus Spotted Cow

The Boards:

US (Awesome) and German (Ugh) box covers.

US (Awesome) and German (Ugh) box covers.

BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: Eminent Domain

Eminent Domain has become my favorite deck builder. That’s probably due to the deck building portion being subtle. There are planets to colonize or attack. There are new planets to survey. There are new for of research to develop. There are so many awesome elements in Eminent Domain that the deck building portion is somewhat of a side thought. But that’s not to say you don’t need to consider how you build your deck.

For those who are sick of Dominion and don’t like the theme of Trains, I highly recommend Eminent Domain!

Designer’s Corner:

The only design efforts I completed last week were from the Design Me article where I designed a new tile placement via dexterity game called ManHunt.

This week I hope to compile and balance the abilities in Brooklyn Bridge as well as make some modifications to how the Tower is built. These will make the game more “Euro” in style, which I am fine with.

I also have the necessary components to prototype Manhunt, which I just might do.

Horizontal Rule

So those are the Boards, Barley, and Design Efforts I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy?

Design Me: Manhunt

It’s Friday and I haven’t exercised my brain lately. So today I am doing a Design Me challenge.

Design Me challenges are all about exercising your brain. Like soccer players need to practice when not playing games, so I believe designers should practice their design skills. A Design Me challenge is a great way to exercise your designer mind. So let’s exercise our minds using this combination of theme, mechanics, and victory condition from Boardgamizer:

FBI tile placement with a dexterity aspect! Piece of cake!

FBI tile placement with a dexterity aspect! Piece of cake!

If you have never checked out Boardgamizer, go do so right now! You just might be inspired for your next awesome game design.

MANHUNT

Manhunt is a tile (card) placement dexterity game for 2 to who knows how many players. Let’s say 8. So 2-8 players. Each player is given an objective card at the beginning of the game. On each card are two goals. The first player to complete both goals will win this fast-paced fun and interactive game!

Components

This game has very few components. They are:

  • 8 Objective Tiles
  • 46 City Tiles of varying terrain
  • Manhunt tokens
  • Objective tokens
  • Rulebook

How To Play

ManhuntLogoDeal each player one Objective tile. This represents that player’s victory condition. Shuffle the City deck and place it face down near the edge of the table. Flip one tile face up and place it in the center of the table. Then flip two more tiles and place them face up next to the deck.

On your turn you will either choose one of the two face up tiles OR you will draw a tile off the top of the deck. Then you will flip, drop, toss, or whatever you need to do to get the tile onto the table. However, you simply cannot place the card on the table.

No matter where the tile lands it becomes part of the city.

Of course you will want to try to do certain things. Let’s look at the tiles and then discuss some strategy:

Some sample tiles. The lines that separate the colors represent roads.

Some sample tiles. The lines that separate the colors represent roads.

Some of the objectives require you to earn Manhunt tokens. To earn a Manhunt token you you to get your tile to cover up a cross-hairs icon. For each icon that you cover you will earn 1 Manhunt token.

Some of the objectives require grouping colors together. So if you can get a group of four brown city sections together then you might meet your objective.

Some objectives could be to get roads together. If you can get three road sections to line up you might meet your objective.

When you complete an objective you should take an Objective token and place it onto your objective tile to indicate that the objective has been met.

So using roads, city sections, and cross-hair symbols you can have a slew of different objectives to meet. The first player who can meet their objectives from their tile will be the winner.

Design Thoughts?

I have successfully exercised my mind and created a tile placement dexterity game that I think could be a fun 10-15 minute filler. I have not played Jason Tagmire’s Maximum Throwdown but I imagine this is similar to that. Sorry, Jason, if this is a rip-off of that. Or I suppose this is similar to FlowerFall. If you think a game like this could be fun, then I suggest you check out Maximum Throwdown or FlowerFall.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to exercise you designer mind!

Monday Brews 4-7-14

Welcome back to another awesome week on Boards & Barley. Don’t worry… I won’t fool you with that whole Hexes & Hops thing again. Two days ago, Saturday, was Table Top Day! I played no games on Table Top Day. Does that mean I have to turn in my gamer card? Instead I took my kids to my parent’s house and we all colored Easter eggs a couple weeks early. My kids loved it! And I found one of my first brews leftover at my parents house. It was one of my Alberti Ambers! I’m excited to try it a year after it was brewed and see if I still like it as much as I did a year ago!

Well I imagine many of you DID play games on Table Top Day. If so, let me know what your favorite game was!

Did you know that today, April 7th, is National Beer Day? From Wikipedia:

  • National Beer Day is a celebration of the Cullen–Harrison Act being signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 22. That law went into effect on April 7 allowing people to buy sell and drink beer again as long as it was < 3.2% (4% ABV).

I did happen to have a few brews last week, though, so let’s start with the Barley.

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: New Glarus Spotted Cow

This is one of the most popular beers in my locale. It is a farmhouse ale that is naturally cloudy. It reminds me of a cream ale or a Hefeweizen in its characteristics.

One of the reasons it is popular is because it is a really good beer. Unfortunately for you non-Wisconsin folks you’ll have to come to Wisconsin to get it.

Honorable Mention: 4 Brothers Sibling Rivalry

The Boards:

BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: Jaipur

This was the only game I played last week and I played it twice with my wife. The first time I dominated her. The second time, a few days later, she had thought about a new strategy and it worked as she dominated me.

In the game you are trying to collect sets of the same color which can then be turned in for points. A round lasts until two piles of point tokens are gone. Then you total the points you have and the winner gets a token to mark their victory. This is a best out of three game, so the first person to win two rounds is the overall winner.

For those who haven’t play Jaipur, it is a great two player game that is light yet fun. My wife and I enjoy it and I would recommend it!

Designer’s Corner:

I didn’t really do all that much in terms of design this past week. I did, however, put more thoughts together for that space/sci-fi game I mentioned last week. The most interesting thing about this current concept is that it has a terrestrial theme as the basis for the mechanics and I’m going to apply them to space instead. I normally don’t use mechanics from a theme without using the theme itself. The tentative title is Armada Galactica.

I’m actually really excited about this game. I think I’m gonna try to make it about a 1 hour game with an Ameritrash feel rather than my standard Euro feel. That means I’ll have a heavy Euro and a medium Ameritrash design going at the same time. That should keep things interesting.

Horizontal Rule

There you go. Those are the Boards, Barley, and Design Efforts I enjoyed last week. What awesomeness did you enjoy? Did you dominate Table Top Day? Try any new brews?

Real Favorite Things

April Fool's Version of B&B

April Fool’s Version of B&B

Most of you understood that my “Hexes & Hops” article was an April Fool’s joke. Others mentioned that they actually preferred the green motif. If you missed out on the fun and want to see what it looked like, just click the image to the right.

I had fun writing that article and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Today I’m posting a true version of my favorite things. And I’m using all the same categories from the April Fool’s article.

Let’s get started with my favorite Barley things…

Barley Favorites:

BEER STYLE: Just about anything Belgian

I love Belgian beers, specifically Trappist beers. They have floral notes and beautiful body. And they are easy enough to understand with the names Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel, etc. Of those varieties I would say Tripel is my favorite. But be careful because these tend to be on the strong side. Here’s a picture from Wikipedia showing some of the best Trappist beers and their glasses:

For the next Board Game Night???

Honorable Mention: Honey Anything, Scotch Ale, Hefeweizen

BEER ESTABLISHMENTS: Breweries/BrewPubs

If I’m going out for a beer I’m gonna go someplace where they either brew beer or they serve local beer on tap. There are actually two new places being built near me that will be great Beer Establishments. I’m also blessed to have a brewery within 1 mile of my house, another big one 25 minutes away, and several more within the city. Madison, Wisconsin is a great beer town!

So I’m not going to bother going to one of those places with the bucket of Miller Lite. I’m going to a place that offers at least 10 different “good” beers on tap. I recommend this strategy.

BEER: Duvel or Orval

To go along with my favorite beer style, I would say my favorite beer would be either Orval, which is trappist, or Duvel. These are both awesome beers with amazing flavor. Of course Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle, and La Trappe are great substitutes.

Honorable Mention: Leffe, New Glarus Cabin Fever Honey Bock (local), Lake Louie Warped Speed Scotch Ale (local)

BEER BREWING PHASE: Cracking open the first of a new batch!

I’d be fooling myself if drinking that first new beer wasn’t my favorite part. It’s way better than the boiling, racking, or bottling. Obviously we don’t brew beer so we can have fun brewing. That’s a side benefit. The real reason we brew beer is so that we savor and enjoy fine beer!

Horizontal Rule

Boards Favorites:

GAME MECHANIC: Worker Placement

I love worker placement games. Some of my favorites are Agricola (which I rarely play), Belfort, and Stone Age. I like the idea that each player has a “crew” to work with and the winner will be the player who best utilized their crew.

If you want to learn more about the Worker Placement mechanic check out iSlayTheDragon’s guide: Take This Job and Place It.

PLAYER STYLE: Fun People

Games are all about fun. So if you are playing and conversing in a manner that is fun and you are fun to be around, then you fit in the category of “Fun People.”

GAME NIGHT HABITS: Contributors

I like it when people bring beverages, snacks, and games to a Board Game Night. It shows you are taking ownership of it. It shows you are there to have a good time. It shows you are part of the group rather than a clinger-on. I also like it when people take charge and read game rules ahead of time or come prepared to teach a game that they enjoy. Be part of it, people!

GAME ART: Merchants & Marauders

This game wins for the board and the player mats. I absolutely love the use of vivid and bright color. I’ll skip the explanations and just show you the art:

This doesn't even do it justice.

This doesn’t even do it justice.

When you’ve got ships out there on the board sailing around then you can really immerse yourself in the Pirate culture!

GAME: Scoville

Alright… call me out on loving my own game. That’s fine. But I wouldn’t have designed it if I didn’t at least like it. And it turns out that I really love Scoville. I’ve played or taught it over 125 times and I’m not sick of it. It is simple, elegant, easy to learn and play, but deep in the interaction and gameplay departments. When it gets produced I hope you’ll check it out.

GAME DESIGN TIPS (Rebuttal of the fake ones):

  1. DO NOT hire an artist for a prototype. Let the game persuade a publisher and then THEY will hire an artist.
  2. DO NOT quit your day job after one successful game. Board game design doesn’t pay the bills.
  3. You should playtest a game no less than 40 times. Preferably closer to 100. Fine tune that thing like it’s a 50s Corvette that still roars like a lion!
  4. Playtest your game enough to find any place where it might be broken and fix those places. Broken games suck and demonstrate that you probably haven’t put enough work into it.
  5. Don’t go hog wild over adding tons of components. Try to keep the component list as streamlined as possible. But if you need to components to make your game great, then go for it!
  6. Don’t sell out a Kickstarter campaign by adding minis. Just make a great game.
  7. Don’t force a long playtest on people. Play long enough to get valuable feedback.
  8. Don’t use spinners. There are almost always better, more fun ways to design random elements of gameplay.
  9. Paper money works, but I prefer chit coins.
  10. Don’t design a CCG. But if you do, make it great!

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There you go. April Fool’s is over and this article should fit much more closely with your Boards & Barley habits. Feel free to chime in with your favorites as well!

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